For everyone News in brief: Term 1, 2022

Albanese pledges millions for consent programs

To mark International Women’s Day, federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese announced a $77 million commitment for teacher training on how to approach sexual consent and respectful relationships with students should they win the next election. The package includes funds to support students who have experienced violence. Albanese says he is committed to working with state and territory governments to ensure the delivery of quality programs for all public schools. Also, to allow principals to hire expert support staff and to develop tailored, evidence-based programs.

Climate inaction shamed by students 

Thousands of schools across NSW and Queensland have been devastated by catastrophic floods, with many destroyed beyond repair. Despairing at the nightly news, students behind the School Strike 4 Climate Australia took aim at Scott Morrison’s inaction on the climate crisis. Drawing attention to the PM’s response to their 2018 rallies: “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools,” the passionate youth activists turned to Twitter to exclaim, “We can’t go to school BECAUSE OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS!” They added, “We have gone from record drought to record flood. If this is bad now, then imagine how bad it will get if we continue down this path of climate inaction. ENOUGH DELAY!”

Religious discrimination rejected by parliament

While the federal government’s attempt to enshrine religious schools’ right to discriminate against students and their teachers failed in parliament thanks to manoeuvring by Labor and the independents, the issue remains if Morrison returns to power at the upcoming election. The federal Labor Party is still sitting on the fence when it comes to school staff. It remains to be seen how and in what form the policy would progress under a returned LNP, or if a Labor government would pursue the Religious Discrimination Bill with amendments.

New book takes a look at the derailing of Gonski

March marked the release of new book Waiting for Gonski: How Australia failed its schools, written by history and politics teacher Tom Greenwell and retired principal Chris Bonnor. They recall the sense of hope when Prime Minister Julia Gillard commissioned leading businessman David Gonski to look at the perennial problem of school funding and his subsequent report recommended a radical overhaul. Despite Gonski’s recommendation of targeted funding to disadvantaged students based on need, the equity gap is now larger than ever. Federal funding to non-government schools has grown at five times the rate of that to public schools. Greenwell and Bonnor’s book investigates where it all went wrong. 

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    As we gear up for a state election, the AEU is focused on holding the Andrews government to account when it comes to fair funding for public education and a plan for addressing staff shortages that respects and values the profession. Read more in our Term 3, 2022 edition of AEU News.

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